Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cardamom Coffee Cake

Are you familiar with the spice cardamom? I know it from our favorite Indian restaurant where they use it to flavor kheer (rice pudding), but I hadn't cooked with it until I made this fabulous coffee cake last week. The flavor of cardamom is unique -- similar to ginger with a hint of clove and nutmeg. I was curious to learn more about the spice, and found this page on Wikipedia, which states that cardamom is the world's third most expensive spice (following saffron and vanilla), and that Guatemala is the largest producer and exporter of cardamom in the world. Interesting.

The morning after Thanksgiving I wanted to make this cardamom coffee cake (like I hadn't spent enough time in the kitchen), but I didn't have any cardamom. So I phoned my husband, who was on an early morning outing with the dogs, and asked him to stop by Whole Foods. They sell it in bulk, which is good because I didn't need a lot. Priced at about $24 a pound, a small amount came to roughly $1.60. I needed 3/4 teaspoon for this cake, and I have just shy of three tablespoons remaining.

While the cake was still slightly warm, I cut a small piece. It's delightful! When my husband tasted it, he raved, saying it's one of his favorite cakes. I agree. In the days following, I heated each piece briefly in the microwave for 17 to 20 seconds. Fabulous! We ate it morning, noon and night until it was gone four days later. 

The cardamom lends a warm spiciness to the cake, making it perfect for the winter months. Enjoy it with a cup of afternoon tea. Or with breakfast. Or as dessert. Below is the recipe, which I changed slightly (used orange zest instead of lemon). Enjoy!

Cardamom Coffee Cake
3 cups flour, spooned and leveled
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup milk (I used skim milk)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 heaping teaspoon of finely grated orange zest (or you can use lemon zest)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9" square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until crumbs form. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture.

2) Whisk milk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, cardamom and orange zest into remaining crumb mixture until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store cooled cake in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days.

adapted from Everyday Food


  1. OH MY GOD; I would love this! I think I can easily adapt it so it's eggless too. I agree with your substitution of orange. Lemon is summer to me; orange is fall and winter. Might be fun with a few golden raisins in it too.

    Let me know if you ever find a good recipe for kheer. I just can't get it to come out the same as what I get in a restaurant.

    Beautiful photo too. I get the idea you love photographing as much as the cooking.

  2. You are amazing Claudia! This looks and sounds delicious....would love to try baking this when the family is here for Christmas. Thanks for sharing :0)

  3. I would slowly savor every morsel! Yummy with tea, indeed. Your house must smell divine, Claudia.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the recipe. I love cakes and quick breads and this recipe reminds me of my grandmother's spice cake recipe! I will try it! xo Terri

  5. Oh my gosh I love cardomom. I must make this.

  6. We use 3 pods of cracked open cardamom every morning in our chai tea! Never used it in baking, My husband would love this cake. Going to pin this recipe. The lowest priced cardamom and also the freshest is in bags at the Indian grocery. I buy lots of spices there, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns for our grinder, fennel seeds and then all the regular Indian spices like turmeric, coriander and cumin, etc. in large sizes and then keep them in the freezer.

  7. Have just found your blog. Love the Little Bungalow. As a cardomom addict this cake is on my must do list now.


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